|NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio|
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s privately financed campaign to offer prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds in New York City spent nearly $236,000 in January and February, spreading much of the money among the same core group of political consultants behind his winning campaign last year, according to records released on Wednesday.
Those consultants, who were paid not by the city but by a new nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, includedBerlinRosen, a public affairs firm that took in $43,950 in fees and expenses, and an affiliate of Hilltop Public Solutions, which was paid a $16,500 “management fee,” according to a filing with the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Hilltop hired Bill Hyers, the manager of Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, in December, the same month Mr. Hyers established the Campaign for One New York, which quickly branded itself as UPKNYC.
Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster, a law firm that worked on Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral run, was paid $23,467 in fees.
Acres, the media production firm that helped mold Mr. de Blasio’s campaign commercials — including a pivotal advertisement featuring his son, Dante — was paid $16,900, according to the filing.
Jessica Singleton, who was digital director of the de Blasio campaign and now works for the mayor, received $2,500 in fees for “brand design” and “digital strategy” before she joined the administration.
The nonprofit also paid $40,000 to the North Star Fund, a foundation that supports grass-roots organizations, which added money of its own and spent it promoting “the need for high-quality, universal pre-K and after-school and the UPKNYC plan to pay for these critical investments” within “grass-roots communities,” Dan Levitan, a vice president at BerlinRosen, said by email.
For all those efforts, the campaign has fallen significantly short of persuading state leaders to go along with the mayor’s desire to increase taxes on high-earning city residents to pay for universal prekindergarten and after-school programs. But Mr. de Blasio’s allies argue that the effort has ignited a conversation that could still give the mayor the money he needs to expand those programs.
“UPKNYC has developed a robust grass-roots campaign to make sure that 73,000 children have access to quality, universal, full-day pre-K and 120,000 middle school students have access to after-school programs that will help them succeed,” Mr. Levitan, who was also the spokesman for Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, said.
Though Mr. de Blasio’s team said weeks ago that it would voluntarily release a list of donors in the coming weeks, Mr. Levitan would not reveal how much money had been raised, or from whom.
The campaign has boasted of a long list of millionaire developers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, in addition to celebrities like the actresses Cynthia Nixon and Olivia Wilde, among its supporters.
“UPKNYC is supported by individuals, organizations and foundations committed to expanding high-quality early education and after school for all New Yorkers and will fully disclose all donors and amounts beyond what is required by law,” Mr. Levitan said.
Though more than $125,000 went to pay consultants and staff members, including $14,000 in compensation for Joshua Gold, a labor organizer Mr. de Blasio put in charge of the school campaign, the drive has also spent money demonstrating grass-roots support.
Buses to Albany for a rally cost $26,419.
And more than $5,000 was paid for thunder sticks emblazoned with a succinct appeal to lawmakers on behalf of Mr. de Blasio’s push for the tax on high earners: “#LetNYCdoit.”
Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting.